Uber: violent taxi driver protests prompt ban in France
Courtney Love one of many caught in nationwide protest, as French government bans UberPop
The French government has ordered a ban on car-sharing service UberPop following violent protests by taxi drivers.
Nationwide strikes were held by thousands of taxi drivers, who say the service is ruining their livelihoods.
Cars were overturned, tyres were burned and highways around Paris were blocked. Attacks on UberPop cars and other taxis who refused to strike were also reported. One witness claimed protesting drivers were pulling other cab drivers out of their vehicles, shouting abuse and spitting on their cars.
Singer Courtney Love said her taxi had been ambushed in the capital, with people beating the cars with metal bats. "This is France??" she tweeted. "I'm safer in Baghdad."
Abdelkader Morghad, from the FTI taxi union, said drivers, who have to pay thousands of euros for a licence, have lost between 30 to 40 per cent of their income over two years because of UberPop, a car-sharing service rolled out by Uber. It allows unlicensed individuals to become part-time taxi drivers and pick up others in their own cars at much cheaper rates than traditional taxis.
Morghad said the government needed to enforce a law, introduced earlier this year, that stops unlicensed drivers from carrying paying passengers. "UberPop is completely illegal in France, but people are still able to download the app and drivers are still able to pick them up and earn money. How can you explain that? That's the real frustration for us," he told The Local.
Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, has since ordered police in Paris to issue a decree banning UberPop and said that any cars defying the order would be seized, reports the BBC.
"I have given instructions, considering the grave problems with public order and the development of this illegal activity, to the police prefecture in Paris to ban UberPop activities," he said.
Cazeneuve also claimed that Uber could face charges of "illicit transportation of people" under article 40 of the country's penal code, which is punished by two years in prison and a €300,000 fine.